Families Outside

Families Outside

At a glance


  • Children / families
  • Counselling / advice
  • Criminal justice
  • Local / community
  • Social care

Other details

Geographical remit: 
National - Scotland


Families Outside works to improve outcomes for children and families affected by imprisonment.

Imprisonment is a traumatic experience for families, and its impact is often significant and enduring.  The imprisonment of a relative has an impact on the social, emotional, financial and, especially for children and young people, educational development of the remaining family members.

Families Outside is the only national organisation that works exclusively on behalf of families affected by imprisonment in Scotland.

Based on this context, vision, and core values, the Key Objectives for Families Outside for the period of 2016 – 2019 are as follows:

  • Families affected by imprisonment can readily access appropriate information and support at the time they need it. This in turn will improve their experience with the criminal justice system and mitigate its impact on them.
  • Policy makers, decision makers, and relevant service providers will be well-informed about the issues facing families affected by imprisonment. They will recognise prisoners’ families within their remit and take the needs of these families into account in the decisions they make and the services they provide.
  • Families Outside will provide a sustainable and viable service as long as the demand for its work is evident.

In order to achieve these objectives, our targets include the following actions:

  • Raise awareness and influence policy and practice regarding families affected by imprisonment;
  • Provide and increase direct support and information to families; and
  • Ensure viability, effectiveness and impact of the organisation.


Families affected by imprisonment face a range of issues; for this reason, Families Outside reaches families in a number of ways, namely through direct support to families; training; and policy.

A summary of the work Families Outside undertakes to achieve our long-term objectives includes:

  • Operation of a national Support & Information Helpline, supporting 1,800+ families and professionals per year;
  • Direct support to about 300 families across Scotland each year (totalling about 700 adults and children);
  • Direct provision of support/information to families at our HMP Addiewell prison visitors’ centre;
  • Development work in schools to support children affected by a family member’s imprisonment;
  • Training/awareness-raising to prison staff, teachers and trainee teachers, police, Children's Panel Members, social workers, students, the NHS and more.This includes a very popular programme of CPD for teachers delivered in prisons and SkillsMark accredited training on child protection and the impact of imprisonment on children. Overall, we provide training to 3 - 5,000 participants each year throughout Scotland;
  • Conferences and events;
  • Resources for families and professionals: publications, videos, on-line resources, quarterly newsletters, website (including specific information for children/young people), as well as regular social media updates;
  • Development of policy and practice alongside national and local statutory organisations as well as internationally through Children of Prisoners Europe (COPE) and the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.

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